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Lula fires army chief ahead of first trip abroad

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Two weeks after the riots in Brasilia, President Lula sacked the army chief on Saturday. He will be replaced by the military commander of the south-east. A decision that comes on the eve of Lula’s first trip abroad since his election. The Brazilian president will visit Argentina on Sunday to “reconnect with Latin America”, an essential region for Brazil “but relegated to the background” by Jair Bolsonaro, according to specialists.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sacked army chief Julio César de Arruda on Saturday (January 21st), two weeks after attacks on power centers in Brasilia and just before his first trip abroad Sunday in Argentina.

Sources within the armed forces confirmed to AFP the ousting of Julio César de Arruda, who had led the army on an interim basis since December 30, two days before the end of the far-right president’s mandate. Jair Bolsonaro. He had been confirmed there at the beginning of January by the new administration of Lula.

He will be replaced by the southeast military commander, Tomas Ribeiro Paiva, according to GloboNews. He said in a public speech on Wednesday that the army would continue “to guarantee democracy” and that it was necessary to “respect the results of the ballot box”, according to a video published by the G1 news site.

Support from the international community

Friday, Lula had met for the first time the three heads of the armies. None had spoken at the end of this meeting, but the Minister of Defense, José Mucio, had assured that there had been no “direct involvement” of the army in the riots in Brasilia.

Lula had received the full support of the international community after the January 8 assault and ransacking of places of power in Brasilia by Bolsonarists refusing defeat and the replacement of their champion.

Sunday, Lula goes to Argentina, in accordance with the tradition which wants that the first exit of a Brazilian president is reserved for his big neighbor.

Lula will find there a loyal ally and friend, President Alberto Fernandez, but also his counterparts from a region where the left has returned to power, by participating in a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).

“Brazil is back!” launched Lula on the evening of his victory on October 30 against Jair Bolsonaro, whose four years in office were marked by great international isolation.

Latin America is therefore the first stage of this normalization, before the arrival of the first European leader in Brasilia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on January 30, then a visit by Lula to American President Joe Biden, in Washington, on February 10. .

Lula’s priority is to “reconnect with Latin America, an essential region for Brazil but relegated to the background” by Jair Bolsonaro, explains to AFP Joao Daniel Almeida, specialist in external relations at the Pontifical University. from Rio.

Lula will meet with Alberto Fernandez on Monday in Buenos Aires. The center-left leader had gone to Sao Paulo to warmly congratulate his “friend” on the evening of his victory.

Argentina is “a very important partner” of Brazil, underlined the vice-president of Lula, Geraldo Alckmin. It is the third customer of Brazilian exports, which exceeded 15 billion dollars last year.

Discussions should include trade, science, technology and defence, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said.

“Pink Wave”

Lula could also meet Tuesday in Buenos Aires his Cuban counterparts Miguel Diaz-Canel and Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro, with whom Brasilia has just reconnected. Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil was one of the fifty countries that recognized the main opponent of the socialist president, Juan Guaido, as “interim president” of Venezuela.

Lula is then due to travel to Uruguay for a meeting with centre-right president Luis Lacalle Pou.

In Buenos Aires, he will take part in the 7th summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), which brings together 33 states in the region. Lula had been at the end of the last of his two terms (2003-2010) one of the founders of this organization, during the first “pink wave” on the continent.

Jair Bolsonaro had suspended Brazil’s participation in Celac, accused of “giving importance to undemocratic regimes like Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua”.

Likewise, he had not frequented Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia where the left had come to power. “A reductive ideological vision”, judged Lula’s foreign minister, Mauro Vieira.

Lula also expressed this week his interest in “a continental policy” for the preservation of the Amazon, a file on which he is eagerly awaited after the record deforestation of the Bolsonaro era.

With AFP

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